Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Farm Fresh Tomatoes with Basil

Fresh tomatoes are another one of my food aversions. But I love to cook with them. At camp, I place marinated tomatoes with basil on the menu twice each session. The counselors (and some of the campers) go crazy over them.

And I love preparing tomato salads for my parents (they're the vine-grown tomato industry's biggest supporters). For their 50th wedding anniversary in August 1999, I marinated sliced tomatoes in a basil and garlic vinaigrette, much like this recipe.

Mom and dad loved the tomatoes, and I used the tomato-infused vinaigrette to dress our salads on a camping trip to Mammoth Lakes, California during the week after the anniversary party.


3 fresh tomatoes, diced and seeded
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix ingredients and refrigerate two hours or overnight to blend flavors.

Marinated tomatoes with basil. We usually fill two (2-1/2-inch) hotel pans per meal with the tomatoes for two or three meals at camp. They're one of the most popular salads for the week-long camp session. The secret is to use a good brand of extra virgin olive oil, freshly minced garlic and chiffonade of fresh basil.

Second Set of Lessons From a Week-Long Bible Camp, Part 3

I could talk about purchasing for several weeks to come. It's one of the most critical tasks of the camp chef.

Think about Where You’re Going to Shop

For three years, I've purchased about 75 percent of the food from Sysco Foodservice of San Francisco. Large foodservice houses, like Sysco, U.S. Foodservice and Smart and Final, can be a Godsend. They conveniently deliver the bulk of the groceries in a one-hour period. This saves you from making a dozen trips to local markets.

But let the buyer be aware. They may require the organization's credit history and a financial guarantee of payment. Jump-start the application process three months ahead of the first delivery. We did and soon discovered the lead time was worth the effort due to delays in the approval process.

The large food service houses only split case lots when it's to their benefit. Costco, on the other hand, doesn't always carry a wide selection of foodservice items. Two years ago, for instance, I couldn't locate #10 cans of refried beans at Costco Santa Cruz. I didn't purchase the beans from Sysco because they required that I purchase a case (6 #10 cans), which was too much. I had to purchase 24 #303 cans instead.

I purchase the bulk of frozen products and produce from Sysco. Costco and Smart and Final supply many of the dry goods and paper supplies. I use the local Safeway for some produce and emergency supplies.

The photographs are of Daybreak Camp kitchen, Felton, California.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Second Set of Lessons From a Week-Long Bible Camp, Part 2

The menu is the key document for any food service operation. Restaurants to camp kitchens use the menu to determine staffing needs, food cost and purchase levels. A well-designed menu will meet nutritional needs of the campers and it'll satisfy cultural and ethnic desires.

Purchase More Ready-to-Cook Food

On Monday night of the second year of camp, I sliced my right thumb while forcing 40 pounds of red potatoes though the julienne blades of a mandoline. My hand slipped as I jammed the 10th potato through. After cleaning the mess, I stood in front of the cutting board for the next hour thinking that I could've purchased a ready-to-cook diced potato and saved injury for another occasion.

We sometimes offer alternative sandwiches just for fun. One such sandwich is The Jonathan, a peanut butter, mayonnaise and dill pickle sandwich that I've enjoyed since childhood. The sandwich is named after Jonathan, an admissions councilor for Florida College, who ate them by the dozen in the weeks after the 2003 session.

Last year, I started purchasing a few more ready-to-cook products. Any number of products qualify: most baking mixes, bottled barbecue sauce, bottled syrup, par-cooked diced potatoes, frozen corn-on-the-cob, ready-to-bake pizza shells, etc. The key is to balance scratch cooking with the labor- and time-saving features of "convenience" foods. This reduces the workload of the kitchen crew and gives us time to pursue other things, like Bible class.

I use the "Get more bang for your buck" theory of food purchasing. A complete heat-and-serve menu would be cost prohibitive. More than half of our entrees are scratch produced. Most of the scratch-produced meals are relatively easy to cook. The taco meat with all the fixin's (Tuesday lunch), pork roast with stuffing and mashed potatoes (Thursday dinner) and the chicken quesadillas with beans and Mexican rice (Friday lunch) are prime examples.

A few meals are earmarked for special handling: I bake scratch made pizza crusts (Monday dinner) and the homemade cinnamon rolls (Wednesday breakfast) because I enjoy baking these items. Another chef may elect to purchase proof-and-bake products. Skill level of the cooks and the time to produce the pizza or pastry from scratch will be the determining factors.

Keep the Menu Simple

It's true that campers enjoy good food. You should see the number of “I hate camp food” messages on the counselor's message board at Those messages sometimes give you the impression that we're suffering as a nation from an epidemic retched camp cooking.

One corner of my "desk"--a stainless steel prep table in the center of the kitchen. I organize all of the recipes by day and meal in a three-ring binder.

Kids enjoy simple fare, especially if the food reminds them of home cooking. The menu doesn't have to be complex in order to be good. You just need to purchase quality vittles and "hire" volunteers who're dedicated to serving in the kitchen.

Each meal served at Northern California FC Camp follows the basic institutional menu pattern:

  • Salad (tossed green plus a few extras)
  • Soup (lunch only)
  • Entree (usually meat-based; we don't have any vegetarians yet)
  • Starch or bread
  • Vegetable (dinner only)
  • Dessert
  • Beverages
The chef and cooks benefit from a simpler menu. It simplifies purchasing, preparation and cooking. And you don't need to spend hours in the kitchen and allows extra time enjoy some of the other activities of camp.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Cinnamon Rolls for 100

The U.S. Armed Forces recipe for cinnamon rolls is designed to yield 100 servings, or 5 rows of 8 rolls each on 2-1/2 full-sized sheet pans. I like to place 6 rows of 8 rolls to yield 48 rolls per sheet pan. As you can see in yesterday's pictures, the rolls proof higher.

For 2004 camp, I baked 1-1/2 recipes of cinnamon rolls. My yield was 163 rolls on 3-1/2 sheet pans. According to my records, 150 campers took 128 rolls before I offered seconds. An additional 21 campers took seconds on rolls. Although we had 14 rolls leftover, none made it to the end of the day!


U.S. Armed Forces Recipe Service card number D-36-4.

6-3/4 ounces active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
3 cups water
1 pounds 4 ounces whole eggs, beaten
1 pounds 2 ounces sugar
1-3/4 ounces nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons salt
7 pounds 14 ounces bread flour
14-1/2 ounces shortening, softened

Cinnamon sugar filling (makes about 4-1/2 cups):
1 ounce cinnamon
1 pound brown sugar

Vanilla glaze (Makes about 2-3/4 cups):
1 pound 10 ounces powdered sugar, shifted
1-1/2 ounces butter, softened
3/4 cup boiling water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sprinkle yeast over the warm water. Do not use temperatures above 110 degrees F. Mix well and let stand 5 minutes; stir. Set aside.

Place water (second listed), eggs, sugar, milk and salt in mixer bowl. Using dough hook, mix at low speed just until blended. Add flour and yeast solution. Mix at low speed 1 minute or until all flour mixture is incorporated into liquid.

Add shortening; mix at low speed 1 minute. Continue mixing at medium speed 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Dough temperature should be between 78 degrees F to 82 degrees F.

FERMENT: Cover. Set in warm place (80 degrees F) about 1-1/2 hours or until double in bulk.

PUNCH: Divide dough into 3 pieces, shape into a rectangular piece. Let rest 10 to 20 minutes.

MAKE-UP: Roll each 4-pound 5 ounce piece of dough into a rectangular sheet, about 18 inches wide, 36 inches long, and 1/4-inch thick. Melt butter or margarine. Brush 1/2-cup on each sheet of dough. Set aside remainder.

Combine cinnamon and brown sugar for cinnamon-sugar filling. Sprinkle 1-1/2 cups cinnamon sugar mixture over each sheet of dough. Roll each piece tightly to make a long slender roll. Seal edges by pressing firmly. Elongate roll to 35 inches by rolling back and forth on work table. Brush 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine on each roll. Slice each roll into 34 pieces about 1 inch wide, using dough cutter. Place cut side down on lightly greased sheet pans in rows 5 by 8.

PROOF: Proof at 90 to 100 degrees F until double in bulk. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown or in 325 degrees F convection oven 15 minutes on high fan, open vent. Cool.

Combine powdered sugar, butter, boiling water and vanilla to form glaze; mix until smooth. Brush about 1 cup glaze on rolls in each pan.

Notes: Serve 1-roll portions. Sprinkle 2 lbs chopped pecans or 10-1/4 ounces plumped raisins over the cinnamon sugar filling during make-up. Granulated sugar may be substituted for brown sugar in cinnamon-sugar filling.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Camp 2005 -- Homemade Cinnamon Rolls

I give the campers a Wednesday morning treat on each year. I awake at 4 a.m. and prepare a large batch of cinnamon buns. I say large batch because three years has taught me to bake 20 to 30 extra rolls because they're so popular.

Last year as I sipped my umpteenth cup of joe, I overheard several kids say, "So, this is what 4 a.m. cinnamon rolls look like!" Puzzled, I kept working and turned my attention to lunch.

I knew that I didn't broadcast the fact that chef had an oh-dark-thirty reveille that morning. Few in camp knew how I made the rolls.

Then around 9 a.m., I grabbed a plate and two rolls and walked own to the outdoor dining area for my own breakfast. That's when I noticed the menu in the dining room window. Each meal my dining room host posted a hand-written menu so the campers knew what to expect for the meal.

I'm not sure if we can call them "4 a.m. cinnamon rolls" this year. I'm considering using a retarded sweet dough so I can sleep a few extra hours. I'll blog tomorrow on the cinnamon rolls and post the large-quantity recipes.

More to come ...

When Sin Overwhelms: Take Heed

How often have you started a venture only to give up half way? I can't count the times when I've poured all my energy to a new project, then watch my initial excitement turn into drudgery. Suddenly, what was once fresh morphed into a chore.

Faced with boredom and dreariness, do you give up? I've often muttered, "It wasn't worth the effort anyway," instead of injecting fresh energy into the project.

What about our lives as Christians? This phenomenon can creep into our faith-filled lives and infect the salvation that we have in Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul warned: "Therefore let him who stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10: 12).

Instead of devoting yourself to God "with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37), you behave like the seed that fell among the thorns (Luke 8:4-8). You wither and fall away because the "cares, riches and pleasures of life" (Luke 8:14) have carried you far from Christ. Instead of bearing fruit, your life in Christ has become choked to the point of failure.

You're not the first to fall. Paul warns the Corinthian brethren: "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition" (1 Corinthians 10:11). Instead of pressing on to the Promised Land, the Israelites sinned in the desert. "There bodies were scattered in the wilderness" (1 Corinthians 10:5).

When faced with "cares, riches and pleasures of life" or when temptations threaten, remember God has promised a "way of escape." Paul said: "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able" (I Corinthians 10:13). Lean on God and "flee from idolatry."

Yes, life has a way of slowing you down. But remember God will help you to stay focused when sin threatens and the worries of life overwhelm you to the point of surrender. Paul said it best: "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14). He focused on the "upward call," not on the things of this world. Look ahead, not behind, and fix your eyes on heaven.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Second Set of Lessons from a Week-Long Bible Camp, Part 1

Here’s the second installment of my lessons from running a kitchen for a weeklong children's Bible camp. They're based operating a stand-alone kitchen where you plan the menu, purchase food and cook meals for the week only. Several points don't apply to a camp kitchen that operates all summer because you can hold excessive stock from one week to the next.

Don't Neglect the Spiritual Aspect of a Bible Camp

In Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, the preacher says that the whole duty of man is to "Fear God and keep his commandments." Jesus said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'" (Matthew 4:3-4).

As Christians, we must always be ready to listen to God. Bible camp is the perfect opportunity for the chef and his cooks to focus on "every word" (see Romans 10:17). Camp is an intense week of spiritually food that we mustn't squander. Be ready to adapt the schedule so kitchen staff can attend Bible study and worship.

Bible camp! Posted by Hello

During the first of year camp, we toiled more than 12 hours each day. On Monday of the 2003 camp session, the cooks worked most of the day. Then Tuesday, the ladies (I was the only man in the kitchen that year) asked if they could attend the woman's Bible class.

I said yes and spent the next hour watching their class from a distance as I did paperwork. I decided that Bible class was more important -- even if only for an hour -- than work. I attended the men's Bible study on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

You're missing the whole point of attending a Bible camp if you don't attend to the spiritual along with as the temporal aspects of camp.

Don't Neglect Food Safety

Food safety is the law. Romans 13:1 says "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God." This passage says that those who resist these authorities (including food safety authorities, one presumes) bring judgment upon themselves. Our motivation to obey laws, according to vs. 5, is because we have a good conscience to God, not just to avoid punishment (see 1 Pet. 2:13-17).

Next to the menu, the food production worksheet is one of the most important documents in the camp kitchen. Use it to record portions prepared, cooking start and stop times and all temperatures (cooking, holding and cooling) for each menu item. Posted by Hello

Secure a health permit where required by law and use a four-pronged approach to food safety:

  • Prevent time-temperature abuse
  • Avoid cross-contamination
  • Ensure proper personal hygiene
  • Clean and sanitize food contact surfaces regularly
Make sure that you have a safe method to transport potentially hazardous food. And don't save leftovers if you can't adequately cool them through temperature danger zone.

Cool leftover food through the danger zone (135 to 41 degrees) by placing the pan in an ice water bath. Under most state and local laws in the U.S., you have two hours to cool the leftovers from 135 to 70 degrees and an additional four hours to cool the down to 41 degrees or lower. This pan of leftover pan of sausage gravy is in the second phase of cooling. Posted by Hello

Index of lessons from a weeklong children's Bible camp

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Wisconsin Brie and Chicken Quesadillas

I found this recipe for Wisconsin Brie and chicken quesadillas in the May 2005 issue of Food Management, a trade journal that I receive at work.

I used a jalapeno wrap for the test recipe. I couldn't find red chile tortillas at the local discount market.


Use the fruit salsa recipe provided or substitute your favorite style. You can also substitute any type of tortilla desired.

4 mangos, peeled, seeded, diced
4 cups jicama, peeled, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 teaspoons cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 tablespoons olive oil
8 teaspoons garlic, minced
4 teaspoons canned chipotle chiles in adobo, pureed
16 ounces chicken breast, julienned
24 ounces Brie
8 tortillas, red
1 cup onion, julienned
8 cilantro leaves, whole

Combine mango, jicama, red pepper, cumin, salt and pepper to create salsa. Set aside in refrigerator. Combine olive oil, garlic and chipotle paste. Rub on Chicken and saute in cast iron skillet over medium heat until done. Set aside.

Remove rind from Brie and discard. Spread Brie on tortillas. Caramelize onions in 4 teaspoons oil. Sprinkle chicken on tortilla and fold over. Heat quesadilla on each side over medium heat until tortilla starts to brown and cheese melts. Garnish with salsa and cilantro sprig.

This recipe is adapted from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Lessons From a Week-Long Children's Bible Camp, Part 7

This is the last of my original 13 (or camper's dozen!) lessons learned. I write these lessons in the weeks after finishing our first camp session in July 2002. I start posting my next set of lessons learned this weekend. These lessons are from our 2003 session.

In General, It's Best To Under Purchase Food For The Week

Not knowing how the campers will react to the menu is one of the great mysteries of camp cooking. Resist the urge to purchase full portions of each menu item for the week. This especially holds true for salads, vegetables and fresh fruit.

Where possible, be prepared to make shopping runs to Costco, Smart and Final or the local market for last-minute items and things that you've run out of. If you can't go, send your camp quartermaster. But be ready to explain your shopping list in detail. On one such list I had heavy cream (you know it as whipping cream). The twenty-something shopper returned with a half-gallon non-dairy coffee creamer, which we never used.

Herbs Are The Spice Of Life

But they're a big waste of the camper's fee if you purchase new bottles of a dozen herbs and spices for the week. Why purchase two ounces of nutmeg when you only need two teaspoons all week? So I invaded my co-director's kitchen--primarily because I forgot in raid my own kitchen, which was 150 miles from camp--and got a hold of about 90 percent of the herbs and spices for the week. We purchased small quantities of the rest.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Lessons From a Week-Long Children's Bible Camp, Part 6

Once You’ve Made Your List, Check It Twice

Take meticulous notes during the planning phase. Mid-way through the week in the first year, I discovered that I hadn't purchased enough ground beef. When I reviewed my purchasing spreadsheet, I found that I inadvertently dropped one of the ground beef meals off my purchase spreadsheet.

As it turned out, this was one of those errors that worked for the common good. We used a combination of leftover taco meat and breakfast sausage for the lasagna. The lasagna brought in enthusiastic reviews for my morning cook (lasagna is one of her specialties).

Monday, June 20, 2005

Taco Seasoning

This taco seasoning is better than any of the packed mixes. I use this recipe at camp and home.

Be sure to use quality spices for this seasoning mix.

1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup ground cumin
1/4 cup dried oregano
1/4 cup garlic granules
1/4 cup onion granules
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons kosher salt

Mix; store in air-tight container. Use 2 tablespoons per pound of cooked ground meat. Add water or stock to moisten. Heat to serve.

Beef Tacos for 100

This is the basic taco recipe that I use at camp.


22 pounds lean ground beef
2-3/4 cups taco seasoning (see recipe)
200 taco shells
6 pounds cheddar cheese, grated
6 pounds lettuce, shredded
3-1/2 pounds onion, chopped
3-1/4 quarts salsa or taco sauce

Cook beef until it loses its pink color; stir to break apart. Drain fat. Add taco seasoning to beef. Saute 5 minutes. Arrange taco shells on sheet pans. Using a convection oven, bake 2 to 3 minutes at 325 degrees F on high fan, open vent until just heated. Place 1/4-cup meat filling in each taco; line up next to each other in steam table pan. Just before serving, top each taco with 2 tablespoons cheese, 2-1/3 tablespoons lettuce, 2 teaspoons onions, and 1 tablespoon salsa or taco sauce.

Tortilla Chip Tacos in a Bag

Here's an idea that I gleaned from the May 2005 issue of Food Management, a monthly trade journal for the non-commercial food service industry.

This recipe is served at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City as "Walking Tacos." Fans grab the taco salad-in-a-bag and a fork and eat it in the stands.

Tortilla chip tacos are perfect grab-and-go entrée for campers. Set up a quick buffet line with tortilla chip bags, a pan of taco meat (beef or chicken or both) and bowls of individual condiments. Condiments should include grated cheeses, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce, minced onions and salsa.

Don't forget the adults. They'll relish a few extra toppings like avocados, extra hot chiles, chopped fresh cilantro and one or more exotic salsas. Some of the older children will "sneak" away some of these toppings. But that's okay. The goal here is to accommodate as many tastes as possible.

For a truly grab-and go meal, accompany the tacos with juice and milk cartons, applesauce cups and popsicles. And you may want to place a sturdy paper plate on the buffet table as the taco can be pretty messy. And don't forget a disposable fork.

I used a 1-ounce bag of Doritos for the test run. You may want to use one of the larger portion-control bags of chips.

For each serving:

1 bag of tortilla chips
1/4 cup taco meat (see recipe)
2 tablespoons shredded cheese
2 teaspoons minced onions
1/4 cup shredded lettuce
2 tablespoons dice tomatoes
2 tablespoons taco sauce or salsa

Crush a bag of your favorite tortilla chips (1-ounce size or larger) and slit the side of the bag. Top chips with spicy taco meat, shredded cheese, minced onions, diced tomatoes and taco sauce, as desired. Garnish with sour cream and chopped cilantro.

Lessons From a Week-Long Children's Bible Camp, Part 5

Here are some tips that you can use to make life more manageable in the kitchen kitchen.

As chef, I have several groups of constituents to keep happy. In addition to the campers (the "kids" I keep referring to), the directors, counselors, department managers (Bible, sports, crafts, night entertainment, nurse and snack shack) all--at times--demand my attention.

And I shouldn't forget the cooks, dining room host and dishwashers. These are the folks that I'm closest to throughout the day, and they're my responsibility.

I'm continually searching for ways to balance the needs of the campers--most important group in my book--with those of camp leadership. As a camp chef, you're half diplomat, half wonder worker.

Plan An Easy-To-Cook Dinner On Off-Site Picnic Days

Everyone, including the cooks, were exhausted after an all-day picnic and train excursion on Independence Day 2002. We planned an All American menu with grilled cheeseburgers and hot dogs, baked beans and Dutch oven apple pie, all cooked and served at the Roaring Camp Railroad.

We originally planned to serve grilled cheese sandwiches with packaged potato chips and chocolate chip cookies that were baked ahead. In the end we served leftover lasagna and garlic bread. This gave the cooks a break and allowed us to prepare dinner for a banquet for high school aged campers that was previously scheduled for the evening.

Self-Serve As Much Food As Possible

Campers assigned to K.P. served the entree, starch and vegetable from the steamline. All other menu items, including the salad bar, dessert, beverages and leftovers, were served from long tables in the dining room. This allowed the campers to take as much as they wanted. Many campers took less than a typical serving, which saved on food cost.

Serve Peanut Butter and Jelly At All Meals

Remember President Lincoln's wisdom (paraphrased here):

You can please some of the campers all the time, some of the campers some of the time, but you can't please all of the campers all of the time.
For all others, there's PB&J.

Find One or Two Signature Items and Put All of Your Effort Into Them

For us it was scratch-made pizza for the first dinner and chef's choice cookies each lunch. (I've since moved the pizza meal to Monday dinner.) All entrees were scratch-made except for the chicken tenders. I also threw in a few surprises like homemade cinnamon rolls and apple cobbler made from puff pastry sheets.

Be creative. Campers won't notice every detail. But they'll certainly appreciate your overall effort. Again, don't loose sight of my first lesson.

Index of lessons from a weeklong children's Bible camp

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Lessons From a Week-Long Children's Bible Camp, Part 4

This lesson relates to purchasing produce for camp. As I've said, about 75 to 85 percent of our food for Northern California Florida College Camp, held at Daybreak Camp, Felton, California each July, is delivered by Sysco Foodservice of San Francisco.

It's convenient to receive most of the food in one drop. But there are drawbacks. The best example is that most items can only be purchased is full cases. When it isn't possible to buy a full case from Sysco Foodservice, we turn to the local Safeway market in Felton. Costco is also down Hwy. 9 in Santa Cruz.

The Government Says the Rule is Five a Day

Five servings of fruits and vegetables is a noble goal. But most campers have never received the message, despite a lifetime of nutrition education in the schools.

In 2002, I purchased three cases of apples, two cases of oranges and one case of grapefruit. At best, the campers ate 15 apples, eight oranges and two grapefruit each morning. Creative menu planning saved our collective butts by serving fresh apple pie and fresh squeezed O.J.

In 2003 and 2004, I purchased one case each of apples and oranges, forgot the grapefruit and threw in bananas for good measure. That has worked well for a camp with 150 campers and adults.

Index of lessons from a weeklong children's Bible camp

Fathering Is An Important Job

By Don Alexander

Good fathers who love God not only "father" children but nurture, guide and correct them so that they obey the father and mother and love the Heavenly Father. That is the central message of Ephesians 6:4:

You fathers provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of God.
By this example of godly living coupled with direct instruction, a father moves his children from earth to heaven. He must not only lift them up on his shoulders in play, he must also lift up their hearts to the Heavenly Father in prayer.

He must teach them about the Father of us all and not relegate this role to the mother alone. He is to take the lead in seeing that his family attends the assemblies and classes of the saints, but also that they pray, study their Bibles and serve others.

He is the first taste his children have of structure, authority and consistent love. His hand must be tender in its firmness, but must always be honest in its movements. His Heavenly Father must guide him through the precepts of the Bible in conducting family life through his leadership.

Done well, fathering casts a long shadow for generations. Done poorly, it does the same thing. It takes far more than the ability to "make babies" to be a father.

Fathers, take up your honorable position and lead your families in the ways of the Heavenly Father. Your family should commend you and encourage you in the role.

The church needs you. Heaven awaits your decision and your action. Your children need you more than your boss does. And somewhere down the road of time, some child's life will be affected by your life.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Southwestern Egg Bake

Southwestern egg bake would be fast food if it weren't for the hour-long baking time. Quick to assemble, this meal slowly melds a variety of flavors into a hearty meal that finds favor with most pallets.

Though this dish may not qualify as classic fast food, it gives you plenty of time to do other things in the crisp morning air. Start with a robust cup of coffee. Then set before the morning campfire. And read a book, meditate on God's word or write in your journal.

Your reward will come on one hour ...


4 flour tortillas
6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
6 ounces Monterey jack cheese, shredded
8 ounces diced green chiles
8 eggs
1 cup milk
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Corn chips, crushed
Sour cream

Break tortillas into greased 12-inch Dutch oven. Mix together grated cheeses, chilies, eggs, milk and seasonings. Pour over tortillas and top with crushed corn chips. Bake at 350 degrees 1 hour, 16 charcoal briquettes on lid and 8 under oven.

Lessons From a Week-Long Children's Bible Camp, Part 3

These lessons relate to purchasing produce and salads. From the first year, we've set a salad bar out in the dining room for lunch and dinner. Tossed salad and a choice of dressings are served at each meal. This gave the campers plenty of options, especially those who may not like the entree for a particular meal.

Starting Sunday dinner, I have my salad cook prepare a half-sized 4-inch hotel pan of one extra salad for the meal. She adds one new salad each meal. So by Monday dinner we have the tossed green salad in addition to three other salads.

We serve cucumber and onion, marinated tomato with basil, potato, macaroni and cole slaw salads. You have to watch quantities so that you don't over produce. Remember to tag each salad with the date and time produced so you can track shelflife.

Don't Order Two Cases of Celery

It's not humanly possible to serve that much celery to 120 campers (especially when the chef gags on the stuff). I found that it's best to purchase small amounts of cucumbers, packaged baby carrots, radishes, mushrooms and sweet peppers. If you can't get less than a full case from your produce vendor, purchase small quantities from the local supermarket or farmer's market.

Purchase Bottled Salad Dressings in Small Quantities

I purchased three cases (4/1-gal.) of Ranch, two cases of Thousand Island and one case of creamy Italian. We used five gallons of Ranch, one-gallon of Thousand Island and two of gallons Italian. That's all you need for most kids.

Ranch dressing is your best bet for most campers. In 2003 and 2004, I purchased a case of Ranch, one bottle each of Thousand Island and creamy Italian dressings. At the end of the week, all we had left was partial bottles -- less than one bottle of each type of dressing.

Campers Don't Eat Exotic Salads

By exotic, I mean all salads except tossed green salad and potato salad. Prepare small quantities of salads such as three-bean, cucumber and onion, and marinated tomato for the adults and some older campers.

We used three (4/5-pound bags) cases of mixed salad greens and one case of romaine (24 medium heads) for five lunches and six dinners. Don't over purchase lettuce. You can always run to the market to purchase extra salad materials later in the week. We averaged 10 to 12 pounds of lettuce per day for 120 campers.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Lessons From a Week-Long Children's Bible Camp, Part 2

In April I started telling you about my preparations for food service at camp. Each summer, I chef for the Northern California Florida College Camp, which meets at Daybreak Camp in Felton, California for one week.

I'll continue posting my thoughts on running a kitchen for a weeklong children's camp over the coming few weeks. They're based operating a stand-alone kitchen where you plan the menu, purchase food and cook meals for the week only. Several points won't apply to a camp kitchen that operates all summer because you can hold excessive stock from one week to the next.

This year, camp meets during the last week of July.

Be Prepared to Serve Lots of Punch and Lemonade

In 2002, I originally thought that six ounces of beverage per person per meal would suffice. When I got home, I calculated that the campers drank about 10 ounces per person per meal. This figure included the extra drinks that we purchased during the week. If you're planning a similar even, I'd start with 10 ounces per person per meal and work from that point.

In 2003, I purchased five cases of punch (3 fruit punch, 1 orange and 1 lemonade) from Sysco Foodservices. Each case contained 12 packages that made two gallons each. On Saturday, we had eight packages of lemonade left. For 150-person camp four to five cases seems reasonable, especially when you have iced tea out for the adults.

2004 proved to be a cool year. I purchased the same five cases, but brought two cases home because the weather was much cooler. However, I'd always plan for warm weather.

Don't forget to place pitchers of ice water on the tables alongside the punch so campers can drink what they needed to stay hydrated. We also keep several Igloo-style containers of ice water available near the sports field. This helps the campers stay hydrated during morning and afternoon games.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Bakin' Bill's Dutch Oven Cooking Blog

Bakin' Bill Johnson of Layton, Utah started a new blog on last week.

Dutch Oven Cooking, which functions under the tag, "Dutch oven cooking provided a necessity to our ancestors and an avenue to new friendships today," will feature Bakin' Bill's thoughts on Dutch oven cooking in Northeastern Utah and environs.

The blog premiered last Wednesday with a note on the Third Annual Eagle Mountain Pony Express Dutch Oven Cookoff that was held in Eagle Mountain, Utah on June 4, 2005.

For the time being, Bakin' Bill has posted photographs at There's a picture of me in the 2005 IDOS Spring Convention album.

Stop by and visit Dutch Oven Cooking on Blogger soon ...

Sunday, June 12, 2005

More Thoughts on Dutch Oven Potatoes with Dried Cranberries

I need to emphasise the two-hour baking time for the Dutch oven potatoes with dried cranberries. Like many layered dishes, this recipe needs time to settle into a cohesive product, much like the process a lasagna goes through.

I remember from The Cowboy's Kitchen with host Tori Richie that the dish cooks down to a single layer. It's then cut it into squares or wedges for service.

I don't recommend that you fill the Dutch oven completely with potatoes and cranberries. Half-way is about right for this dish. This gives you sufficient headroom to allow the top heat to penetrate through the dish. The potatoes will compress as they cook.

When overfilled, Dutch oven potatoes with dried cranberries will not cook properly. Layered dishes need time to compress into a single structure that stands on its own when cut into individual servings. You won't be rewarded with a wonderful dish if you pull the heat from the Dutch oven too soon. Be patient and do some fishing. The wait is worth the effort.

Note that this principle mainly applies to layered dishes. Moist dishes like stews, soups and chilies because rely on bottom heat to cook. The liquid environment will move heat through the dish rapidly.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Dutch Oven Potatoes with Dried Cranberries

I baked Grady Spear's Dutch oven potatoes with dried cranberries this afternoon at the 21st annual Carson City Rendezvous. I have to say that they were a refreshing change from standard scalloped potatoes. The cranberries and Parmesan cheese formed an unique flavor that I enjoyed.

I've watched Grady prepare these potatoes on a Food Network show several years ago. They looked interesting, so archived the recipe on my Palm Pilot and forgot about it. (I use PDA Cookbook on my Tungsten E in case anyone's interested.)

I could never get past the potato-fruit connection in his recipe. I feel that potatoes should only be covered by three condiments--gravy, catsup or hot sauce. Fruit doesn't belong anywhere near potatoes in my book.

My plan tonight was to taste the potatoes to make sure they were properly seasoned. Nothing more. So, when it came time to test the potatoes, I was pleasantly surprised. The sweet cranberries complimented the starchy potatoes. I'm going to make this one of my signature dishes for Dutch oven cookouts.

It's easy, especially if you have a mandoline laying around. Lacking a mandoline, use a sharp chef's knife to slice the potatoes as thin as you can get them. All you need to do from this point is layer the potato slices in a Dutch oven with the cream, Parmesan cheese and cranberries. Heat and about two hours of patience will do the rest.


Grady Spears is a cowboy turned chef who owns four restaurants in the Southwest and has written four cookbooks on regional cuisine.

2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
2 cups dried cranberries
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
2-1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Preheat 10-inch Dutch oven lid to approximately 300-degrees with 12 charcoal briquettes. Slice potatoes 1/16-inch thick with a mandoline, or paper thin by hand. Layer 1/5 of sliced potatoes in buttered 10-inch Dutch oven, making 2 thin, overlapping layers.

Sprinkle 2 teaspoons Parmesan over potatoes. Top with 1/2-cup cranberries, salt and pepper to taste, and 1/2-cup cream. Repeat this step 2 more times, ending with potatoes. Top potatoes with remaining cream and dot with butter. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Place lid on oven and bake for around 2 hours with 12 coals on lid and 5 under oven. Replace coals as needed at the 1-hour point. For a darker brown potato, heap coals on lid for that last few minutes (check potatoes first--this may not be necessary due the long baking time.) Set lid ajar and let potatoes sit for 15 minutes before serving. Cut into squares with a sharp knife. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Mountain Man Breakfast from Leftovers

A couple weeks ago I received this comment on 'Round the Chuckbox:
I was looking at the portion size for the mountain man breakfast. When I am out there are only 2 of us. The recipe serves 12 to 18. How do you cut it down to cover just 2? Like 1/2 green pepper if you cut it down in portion size you would get about one strip of pepper and if you didn't cut it down it would over power. This is the same on a lot of dishes. How do you cut things down and get the same taste? Hutch.
I'll be faced with the same problem soon. My family will be down to two in a few years. With both daughters out of the house, often my son and I are often the only ones camping. My wife usually joins us on longer trips.

Like you, I'm going to have to adjust my thinking on many camp recipes. At home I can prepare large recipes. This gives me leftovers to take to work during the week. But camp is not the place to be saddled with huge quantities of leftovers.

My approach to adjusting recipes in camp

I'd say approach the problem from two angles: First, attempt to cut the recipe in half. If that's still too much food, quarter the recipe. Many recipes--especially those with ingredients like eggs--can't be reduced much below one-fourth.

Mountain man breakfast from leftovers.
If that doesn't work (and it looks like you're already contemplated such a reduction), use your cooking senses and create a new recipe based on standard quantities of the main ingredients.

The way I look at this problem is this: Each person normally eats one to two eggs, a half-cup of hash browns and a sausage patty or two. That's what you're looking for in a single mountain man breakfast. Add a few tablespoons of onion and bell pepper (or hot peppers) and some shredded cheese and you've made a one-pot breakfast.

The instructions remain the same for two servings as for 18 with two or three notable exceptions. The only thing left to do is select the appropriate Dutch oven (a 5- or 8-inch oven) and adjust the number of charcoal briquettes for the smaller oven. You may need to reduce the baking time as well.

And don't forget to experiment and adjust ingredient quantities to your personal tastes. Mountain man breakfast is forgiving. It'll take abuse and come out good every time.

If you enjoy red and green bell peppers, add more. One or two tablespoons of finely chopped aromatics (onion, garlic and/or sweet and hot peppers) should be enough to add a flavor foundation to the breakfast.

Ingredients for the mountain man breakfast from leftovers.

And don't forget the leftovers that seem to pile up in camp. This morning I took leftover baked potatoes and London broil to form the foundation of a mountain man breakfast. Since I had five to feed, I baked the dish in a 10-inch Dutch oven. I added the eggs that were left in the cooler, chopped onions from last night's stroganoff (coming soon) and the remnants of a package of shredded cheese.


Use this recipe to give you ideas for preparing mountain man breakfast from leftovers. Mountain man breakfast is akin to hash, the ultimate in dishes created from leftovers. Quantities are approximate--add and take away ingredients to suit your tastes.

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium red baked potatoes, diced small
2 ounces leftover beef steak, diced small
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
5 eggs, lightly mixed
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat in 10-inch Dutch oven. Add potatoes and beef and stir to mix. Cook potato mixture for 5 to 10 minutes to develop some color. Season potato mixture with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

Pour eggs evenly over potato mixture. Add cheese to the top of the potato-eggs mixture and place lid on Dutch oven. Bake 20 to 30 minutes with 6 coals under and 14 coals on lid, until knife inserted in center of mixture comes out clean

Serve with your favorite marinara sauce or catsup. Serves 2 hearty or 4 to 6 lighter portions.

Note: This dish baked more like a fritata as it was only about one inch thick in the 10-inch oven. It should work in an 8-inch oven as well.

When I saw the steller's jay land on the charcoal chimney, my first thought was, "What a dumb bird!" After all, I thought the coals had been burning for 20 minutes. This guy should've toasted his feet. Needless to say, I had to relight the charcoal ...

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Sanborn County Park Photograph

Our tent trailer and pick up truck at Sanborn County Park, Saratoga, California. The RV campground is a parking lot with 14 (30-foot) stalls. The walk-in campground is more forested and much more enjoyable.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Don Mason's Dutch Oven Newsletter

Here's the latest issue of Don Mason's Dutch Oven Newsletter from Northern California. Email Don at to receive an electronic copy.

Sanborn County Park

Since last night I've been camping at Sanborn-Skyline County Park, about two miles west of Saratoga, California. This is one of the rare times that I've camped on the outskirts of a major metropolitan area. Most of my camping is done on national forest lands in the Sierra Nevada Range, along California's spine.

Sanborn County Park is one of five parks in the Santa Clara County parks system that offers camping. It's located about two miles west of Saratoga Village, just south of California State Route 9. SR 9 continues onto Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond, Felton and Santa Cruz.

You access the park and campground by taking the Saratoga Avenue exit from SR 85 (north-or southbound), traveling west. You'll join SR 9 (Big Basin Way) just before you proceed through Saratoga Village. Turn left at Sanborn Road (just past Saratoga Inn, a private campground on Saratoga Creek).

The park has 14 RV sites with electrical hookups and water. One campsite is for disabled access. A BBQ stand, small picnic table and paved RV drive is included in each site. A sanitary dump station is located in the RV campground. The RV site costs $25 per night, payable by 1 p.m. each day.

Parking for the walk-in campground is adjacent to the RV campground. The park provides hand carts to haul your gear up into the campground along Sanborn Creek. Each of the 33 campsites has a picnic table, food locker and firering.

I walked through the campground last night. The walk-in campground is located along the pristine, tree covered Sanborn Creek. I'd camp here if we were tent camping. This area reminds me of the campgrounds we frequent in the Sierra.

I'll post photographs soon.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Campfire Roasted Corn-on-the-Cob

I've seen a lot of ideas for roasting corn over a hot grill. Wrap in foil or peel husk, remove silk, rewrap husk--it doesn't matter what method you use. They're all time consuming.

Most recipes have you remove the husk and silk, wash the corn and wrap it in aluminum foil. Butter, salt and pepper are usually brushed on the corn before rolling it in the foil.

Corn roasting over the campfire. The skillet is an old Teflon-coated pan that my parents keep in their tent trailer. I left the chuckbox at home this trip and depended on cookware in the trailer.

The simplest method is to lay the corn--husk and silk included--over a very hot fire and roast until the husk has dried out and is charred. That's it. All you have to do is peel the husk back and butter and season.

Don't worry about the silk. It comes right off when you peel the husk back. Just pull it off the ear and throw it into the fire.

Last night while camped along Iron Mountain Road in Eldorado National Forest, I roasted two ears of corn over the campfire. It only took around 20 to 30 minutes to roast until the corn was tender.

The silk lifted right off. I might have eaten one or two of the silky strands, but no more.

Be sure to spread butter on the corn while it's still hot.

Dutch Oven Layered Breakfast

Ranch food stirs images of campfires and Dutch ovens lined up over a long cookfire. You get a vision of cookie laboring under the noonday sun behind a rustic chuckwagon. Chicken fried steaks, scratch biscuits and Amy Tanner's apple crunch are dishes you expect on the range.

That’s the kind of food you'll find in C.W. "Butch" Welch’s new cookbook, Retro Ranch: A Roundup of Classic Cowboy Cookin', published this spring by Collectors Press of Portland, Oregon.

Dutch oven layered breakfast with roasted corn-on-the-cob and cottage fried potatoes.

Breakfast is one of my favorite meals in the wilderness. Nothing hits the spot like savory breakfast sausage or smoked bacon sizzling over the campfire. (Steak and baked potatoes are my next favorite meat.) So, Cee Dub's Dutch oven layered breakfast hit the spot for dinner last night.

For the test run I tweaked the layered breakfast some. Not to worry because Cee Dub often preaches this on his cable television shows. He’s encourages his viewers to use what’s left I the grub box.

My philosophy is similar. A recipe is a starting point. You then add and remove ingredients to suit your taste buds (within the structural limits of the recipe, of course). You'll often find that I’ve rewritten recipes on 'Round the Chuckbox to fit my family’s tastes.

I cut the recipe in half and baked it in a 10-inch Dutch oven. I then added a layer of diced roasted Anaheim and jalapeno chile peppers to the dish. Instead of mustard, I seasoned the breakfast with cumin and minced garlic.

Anaheim and jalapeno chile peppers raosting over the campfire. Once the skin charred, I wrapped the chilies in plastic wrap for a few minutes to make removal of the skin easier. Posted by Hello


Cee Dub's layered breakfast is kind of a savory bread pudding with a cheesy crust. It uses meat and savory seasonings like dried mustard to form a custard-like casserole that'll overwhelm your taste buds. Use this recipe as a springboard to flavorful breakfast casseroles, like my Southwestern version (see description above).

I've printed the recipe as it appears in Retro Ranch. Be sure to bake the casserole for the full time. You get a soggy mess if you don't. I recommend adding the cheese halfway through baking to prevent burning. Add the cheese sooner for a crispier crust.

10 to 12 slices bread, trimmed and cubed
2 cups ham or sausage, cooked and diced
12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
6 to 7 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons chopped onion
3-2/3 to 4 cups milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat 12-inch Dutch oven lid by rimming with 18 to 22 burning briquettes. Butter oven; add bread, sprinkle meat over bread and cover with cheese. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over cheese. Using 6 to 7 briquettes under oven and briquettes on lid, bake until knife inserted in center of mixture comes out clean. To bake in conventional oven, preheat to 325 degrees. Butter 9- x 12-inch baking dish; bake 1 hour.

Serves 4 hearty to 8 lighter portions. Cut recipe in half for a 10-inch Dutch oven.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Review of Cee Dub's New Book Retro Ranch

I wrote a review of Retro Ranch: A Roundup of Classic Cowboy Cookin', by C.W. "Butch" Welch. Retro Ranch is published by Collectors Press of Portland, Oregon. For purchase information, see or go to Collectors Press.

The review will appear in the summer issue of the Dutch Oven News, published by the International Dutch Oven Society. I will post the review sometime in August.

Hot Water in Camp

I’ve always preached the need to keep a continuous supply of hot water. Hot water is always needed in camp for hand washing, doing the dishes and taking a quick sponge bath. It’s also nice to have the water on hand to mend scraped and bumps.

The 9-quart Navy coffee boiler prompted next to a campfire. Somewhat inefficient, this method noneeless provided sufficient hot water for two. Posted by Hello

For me the old fashion cowboy boiler works better than most containers. I favor it over the stockpot. The bail and handle (at its base) assist with pouring. The spout helps direct the stream of scalding water to the receiving container--something you can’t do with a stockpot.

At cookoffs where I'm restricted to charcoal, I set the coffee boiler over a charcoal chimney with briquettes. Posted by Hello

In a typical camp, I set the boiler on the fire grate over the breakfast and dinner fires. My surplus Navy boiler has a capacity of 9 quarts of water (or coffee for those times where I feed a large group in camp). It usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes over the campfire to boil sufficient water for dishes and other sanitation chores.

Quist Hot Tap Outdoor Water Heater

For those who like “low-tech” technology, I recently saw a new product from Quist Camping Company, 246 East 650 West, Kaysville, Utah, 84037. Their Hot Tap outdoor water heater “provides a continuous supply of hot water, no matter where you go. It may be the idea product for campers, especially those who depend on the gasoline or propane camp stove.

The owner of Quist Camping Company demonstrates the Hot Tap. Posted by Hello

The Hot Tap heater relies on the simple premise that hot water rises to the top of the pot. Once water in the pot boils, you pour cold water into the funnel and hot water will flow out the spout. The intake pipe carries the cold water to the bottom of the pot, forcing hot water through the outflow pipe.

An interior shot of the Hot Tap. Posted by Hello